Audi duo prevails in battle of the ADAC GT Masters title contenders

- Leaders Kelvin van der Linde and René Rast celebrate second win of the season - Pursuer van Lagen finishes second to remain hot on heels of Audi pairing - Porsche man Handlos close to wrapping up Gentlemen title with eighth win of campaign

Hohenstein-Ernstthal: The title chase in the ADAC GT Masters is reaching a climax. In Saturday’srace at the Sachsenring, the current Top Three in the championship table were battling it out forvictory. In a thrilling duel at the front, championship leader Kelvin van der Linde (18, ZA) andRené Rast (27, Germany) in their Prosperia C Abt Racing Audi R8 saw off the challenge of theGW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 driven by their closest rival for the title, Jaapvan Lagen (37, NL) and Christian Engelhart (27, Germany). Saturday’s podium party perfectlyreflected the current situation at the top of the championship table, with third place going toClaudia Hürtgen (43, Germany) and Austria’s Dominik Baumann (21) in a Pixum Team SchubertBMW Z4. “This second victory of the season was a lot longer coming than we had wanted,” saida beaming van der Linde after the race. “We are very pleased to have finished ahead of ourclosest pursuers – this gives us a bit more breathing space at the top.”

Key facts, Sachsenring, Round 13Track length: 3,645 metresWeather: 24°C, cloudyPole position for Race 1: Kelvin van der Linde (Prosperia C Abt Racing, Audi R8 LMS ultra),01:21.100 minsWinner of Race 1: Kelvin van der Linde/René Rast (Prosperia C Abt Racing, Audi R8 LMS ultra)Fastest race lap: Christian Engelhart (GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport, Porsche 911 GT3 R)

Van der Linde reigns supreme from the startPole-setter van der Linde needed nerves of steel in the first half of the race. The Audi driverconverted pole position into a race lead, but then saw it whittled away by two safety car periodsin the first seven laps. The yellow flags first came out after a collision involving Israel’s Alon Day(22) in a BKK MOBIL OIL Zakspeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and Max Sandritter (25, Germany)in a Pixum Team Schubert BMW Z4 on the opening lap, and again on Lap 6 after a mechanicalbreakdown left Patrick Assenheimer’s (22, Germany) Corvette stranded in the middle of thetrack.

After the restart, van der Linde managed to defend the lead ahead of pursuer Engelhart in thePorsche 911 but was unable to shake him off completely. It was only after van der Lindehanded over to Rast at the mandatory pit stop that the Audi built up a 3.5-second advantageover the Porsche which now had van Lagen at the wheel. But the margin was once again eatenaway ten minutes before the end of the race when the safety car was deployed for a third timeafter a technical defect forced Corvette driver Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (36, NL) to a halt at theside of the track. Six minutes before the end, the race was on again for a final five laps in whichRast and van Lagen slugged it out for the race win and championship lead. The Audi man heldon to his lead and crossed the line 1.3 seconds ahead.

“The safety car period towards the end obviously didn’t help, but I managed to re-establish asmall gap for the last few laps,” said Rast after his seventh ADAC GT Masters race victory. “Wehad to be careful with our strategy today. We actually wanted to take our pit stop early inRace 1, but if we’d done that, the Porsche might have been able to gain time, and the situationwould have become a lot tighter. Consequently, we adapted our strategy in line with that of thePorsche and pitted late.”

Baumann and Hürtgen sustain title challenge with P3It was also a sound strategy that resulted in third place for Hürtgen and Baumann, keeping theBMW duo in the title race. Hürtgen was running sixth after the start and pitted early in the tenminutewindow, allowing Baumann to move up to P3 during the second stint. Sebastian Asch(28, Germany) and Switzerland’s Philip Frommenwiler (25) finished fourth in their FarnbacherRacing Porsche 911, much to their relief after a long barren spell in the campaign. Localfavourite Philip Geipel (27, Germany) and co-driver Markus Winkelhock (34, Germany) in a YACORacing Audi R8 LMS finished fifth, their best result of the season.

A drive-through penalty for exceeding the maximum speed in the pit lane cost Luca Stolz (19,Germany) and Maximilian Götz (28, Germany) of HTP Motorsport a possible podium spot. Theirgullwing had moved up to third immediately after the start but dropped back to seventh afterserving the drive-through, slotting in behind Maro Engel (29, Germany) and Jan Seyffarth (28,Germany) driving a Mercedes entered by ROWE RACING.

David Jahn (23, Germany) and Sven Barth (33, Germany) of RWT Racing Team were the fastestof the Corvettes, coming home in eighth position ahead of Fabian Hamprecht (19, Germany)and Nicki Thiim (25, DK) in a Prosperia C Abt Racing Audi R8. Austrian Herbert Handlos (31),championship leader and class winner in the Gentlemen standings, took tenth place in theTONINO Team Herberth Porsche 911 that he shares with Alfred Renauer (29, Germany).

Chance for Handlos to clinch Gentlemen title on SundayDominic Jöst (36, Germany) and Florian Scholze (41, Germany), both of TONINO Team Herberth,kept the thrilling title fight in the Gentlemen class on the boil. Handlos did indeed take hiseighth race win at the Sachsenring from team-mates Jöst and Scholze. However, due to thepoints scoring system in the Gentlemen category which takes driver pairings into account, theAustrian extended his lead in the standings by only 1.5 points. Switzerland’s Remo Lips (32) andADAC Sports Foundation protégé Lennart Marioneck in a Callaway Competition Corvettefinished third.

Audis qualify 1-2-3 for Race 2The winners of the first race secured another promising grid position in Sunday’s second race(Race 2 broadcast live on kabel eins, from 11.45 am onwards) and will start in third placebehind fellow Audi drivers Nicki Thiim and Austrian Daniel Dobitsch (30) of kfzteile24 APRMotorsport. Rast will be on the second row next to the Porsche of title rival van Lagen.

Result: Race 1 (Top Six):1. Kelvin van der Linde / René Rast (Prosperia C Abt Racing, Audi R8 LMS ultra), 40 laps2. Christian Engelhart / Jaap van Lagen (GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport, Porsche 911GT3 R), 1.342 sec3. Claudia Hürtgen / Dominik Baumann (PIXUM Team Schubert, BMW Z4 GT3), +3.460 sec4. Philipp Frommenwiler / Sebastian Asch (Farnbacher Racing, Porsche 911 GT3 R), +5.102 sec5. Philip Geipel / Markus Winkelhock (YACO Racing, Audi R8 LMS ultra), +5.775 sec6. Maro Engel / Jan Seyffarth (ROWE RACING, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3), +6.351 sec

All 16 races of the ADAC GT Masters will again be broadcast live and in full throughoutGermany, Austria and Switzerland on kabel eins during 2014.

Calendar for the 2014 ADAC GT Masters25/04 – 27/04/14 etropolis Motorsport Arena Oschersleben09/05 – 11/05/14 Circuit Park Zandvoort (NED)23/05 – 25/05/14 Lausitzring06/06 – 08/06/14 Red Bull Ring (AUT)08/08 – 10/08/14 Slovakia Ring (SVK)29/08 – 31/08/14 Nürburgring19/09 – 21/09/14 Sachsenring03/10 – 05/10/14 Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg

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